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Thursday, November 01, 2007

Candidate Question #9 Enforcement

Question#9: Enforcement

It has become fairly common practice to resolve problems of the moment by creating new legislation. Easton has a comprehensive set of ordinances already on the books. How can we more effectively enforce the laws/rules that already exist?

Government is of laws, not of men. Enforcing the codes of the city must be done in a uniform, fair and consistent manner, regardless of individuals. The Codified Ordinances of the City of Easton contain all of the necessary codes to provide a safe and clean environment for all residents. We will increase the effectiveness of the code department by making the Code Administrator a Cabinet level position directly under the Mayor, using technology for increased efficiency and providing enhanced training for the staff.

Audit the city. Let's give ourselves an audit from stem to stern, from tip to tail, and from head to toe. I propose to remove legislation that is outdated and antiquated. I also propose to follow up on all of the 90 day resolutions that have not been rescinded when they got out of date.

We need new laws, but we need laws with teeth and laws that don't insult the public's intelligence. We need to remove laws that are unenforceable. We need to make sure that the codes department, the board of health, the fire department, and the police department have a working knowledge of the city codes and ordinances. I'm not saying they have to be experts, but experts in their fields, and at the very least a working knowledge of all of the other areas. These departments are our eyes and ears, and need to use a significant amount of common sense when outside to enforce what is enforceable.

Let's make the laws that stick, the laws that will bring in money, and the laws that will protect our citizens.

Some of this would seem to be a matter of cleaning up existing ordinances so that they are enforceable. For example, we currently have an anti-loitering ordinance on the books, but it is my understanding that, as written, the police can’t enforce it. There’s an easy remedy: rewrite the ordinance. More care needs to be taken in writing new ordinances so that they are immediately enforceable and don’t need revision months, and then years, later. Council writes the legislation, the administration must enforce it. Council needs to work more closely with the administration to make sure that laws are enforceable as written, and that ordinances are being enforced down the road.

The answer to this problem would require nearly a book to begin to scratch the surface. More enforcement officers, increased technology, fewer rules, and better education of the public are just a few of the things that can be done to more effectively enforce or trim our excessive number ordinances. We need to also assess what we do to enforce the ordinances. If the punishment for breaking an ordinance is too light then individuals will continue to break the ordinance requiring greater effort in enforcement. If the penalty is too severe we are placing too great a burden on the citizen.

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